Batch render licensing - potential dealbreaker?

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Hi there,

we are seriously considering the switch/upgrade to Houdini.

One plus for us was that we can use our existing Arnold licenses (SitoA, MtoA) to render with Houdini.
But as i now understood one needs a hbatch license for every machine if we want to render .hip files without converting to .ass on our farm.:shock:

This would make the whole process a lot more expensive. I understand that hbatch can do a lot more then just rendering out images. But as we are used to render without conversion it would be another step in production to avoid.

It would be perfect if one could use Houdini in batch mode just for rendering images (3d party renderer has its own license) without the need of additional cost. This is the way Maya and Softimage work in batch mode.

The way it is now would make it a bit harder to convince for a switch to H.

Florian
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Mantra tokens (unlimited/free) are for used for rendering images. They require the use of .IFD sequences, which HBatch (the expensive part) can generate on a farm. A single workstation can produce an IFD sequence and have it render on the entire farm.

Least that's my understanding so far. I have not got into heavy simulations and really complex scenes yet but, I've found IFD generation to be fairly quick so far.

Edit: Early in the morning, I have no idea how it will be done with 3rd party renderers…
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With 3rd party renderers you would still use HBatch lics to generate .ass files in the case of Arnold.

While that may seem expensive, given H13's packed prims and alembic, its really easy to setup delayed load setups for rendering these days. You still have to generate .ifd/.ass files, but they ideally should be very very small and quick to generate.

Granted, that won't always be the case, but that's when you do the cost analysis of whether you need to buy more batch licenses or invest in time in optimizing your setup/approach.
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I also think that the possibility to render without a license needed in batch mode with 3rd party renderers in Softimage and Maya is a very convenient workflow.
Just sending a scene file directly to the farm is very artist friendly.
Until now we never had to worry about creating render archives before rendering, so I guess this would mean bigger change in our pipeline/workflow as well as possible extra costs for batch licenses.

So +1 for some kind of “license free Render only batch mode”!

Cheers, Michael
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I can only agree to what has been said about creating .ass files. It's another step on the process and can take a very long time depending on the sequence length and content being processed.

So any word from SideFX would be great.

Andy

P.S. From the looks of the country icons, a lot of German studios/freelancer are looking into Houdini. Servus :-)
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I agree to a artist friendly pipeline idea but I am also a big advocate to reference everything. I always saw XSI as a sequencer type thingy. A scene assembly tool.
My actual render scenes been very light even pre Arnold times.

I think its a general misconception to pass geometry around the whole time by keeping it in-scene. from asset creation, animation, shading, lightning and rendering. In the end you find yourself loading and unloading tons of geo, and in the end it is just relevant at modeling (maybe animation if you need to deform) and render time.

you need some good data management, but thats all. and I think in Houdini its gonna be even easier to work like that.

I can speak more about concepts like that at our first user meeting
http://www.sekowfx.com [www.sekowfx.com]
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I think to assemble your scene out of referenced stuff is the one part (the we do too if necessary), but after the assembly/pass setup/shader distribution an additional creation of a combined archive would be needed in order to render on “license free” on a farm (at least as far as my understanding goes).
But then again I not familiar yet with scene assembly and archive creation in Houdini. And if it's true that with the help of deferred loading of assets and so on the creation of ass-files would be fast, i would be fine with that extra step.

Yes, would be great to talk about that at our meeting!

Servus
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To add to Jim's comments, if I can clarify, by simplify the process using alembic and packed primitives, you can generate the ifd's for Mantra and .ass files for Arnold on your local workstation and then farm out the scene description files off to the render farm.

What we recommend is a 10:1 ratio of render nodes to batch licenses if you want to expand.
There's at least one school like the old school!
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I've got a FX seat set up this week and am trying to develop an Arnold workflow. I can of course render locally but I'm less sure about the exporting of ASS files( setting everything up for rendering)

I'd love a little more clarity for what you guys think would be the overall workflow for dependancies as scenes are configured. I'm familiar with Alembic but if Houdini is the final output stage I'm less familiar with what might be most useful for a Houdini centric workflow.

I'm already referencing VDB files for “Arnold VDB” from a VDB sequence folder I created in the HIP project folder. I don't want to presume anything so… What all else would I want in the HIP project for reference? Would the HIP project even be the best place to put these things? Currently I've got the HIP project folder on the server( mapped as a network drive) which I'm also unsure of being a good idea or not.

Thanks for any thoughts. I think a lot of people are going to be facing this and I certainly don't want to presume anything?
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Sorry, not trying to defend SESI here, but I think your problem is not a pricing issue it is just not using the correct pipeline.
Arnold has ass files, like prman ribs or mantra's ifd, for a very good reason.
No matter how “user friendly” is sending a render from the scene it is really inefficient and a bad way of working.
The sooner you have a setup in your farm to kick renders from ass files the better.

And you will fix two problems
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Pablo Giménez
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Hey Pablo, I totally agree.
Unfortunately studios in advertising do not like to invest in pipeline development like that. And Artist used to “send scene to farm and forget” are also hard to convince (not implying that flo and andy are like that ).

I am preaching that kind of workflow for some time now. But with Soft or Maya you get practically unlimited batch licenses for sending data via sitoa/mtoa.
There is no argument against that.

@floW, gothee we really have to meet up. maybe I can be of service. In the end its just a question of data management and nifty scene assembly.
Edited by - March 26, 2014 10:38:57
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sekow
I am preaching that kind of workflow for some time now. But with Soft or Maya you get practically unlimited batch licenses for sending data via sitoa/mtoa.
There is no argument against that.
Deathline works in the way I meantioned, it can kick render from IFD ans sent them to Mantra, it is very easy to use and lots of advertising companies use it.
I have actually used it in commercials.
For the batch licenses in Maya and Soft, I am not sure, but in maya I think you can only kick render it is a different concept as a batch license in houdini.
I am probably wrong here, but I rememebr that to kick simulations we needed to buy more licenses, but I am not sure again.
A batch license in Houdini can do everything, can computa any output even if it is a scene that is using nodes that requires a Master license.
The Mantra node can create IFDs just settign a toggle. then tools like Deathline can use sequences of IFDs file to render from Mantra at no extra cost.
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Pablo Giménez
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It's just a monetization choice, after all. If hbatch licenses were free, mantra licenses probably would not be.
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eetu
It's just a monetization choice, after all. If hbatch licenses were free, mantra licenses probably would not be.
I think the current price is all right, in theory you should have much less licenses of hbatch then mantra licenses.
Or actually for a small sutdio you can even have no batch licenses at all.
I have worked in commercials with this scheme with no problems.
Just a couple of escape licenses and one master.
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Pablo Giménez
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jep, even royal render has an option to manage ass files and render via kick.

in my experience (as freelancer in commercials that is.) artist are used to have everything in scene. in the end passing huge data sets from production step to the next one. highly ineffective.
so no wonder export times rise at the submitting process.

lisux
sekow
I am preaching that kind of workflow for some time now. But with Soft or Maya you get practically unlimited batch licenses for sending data via sitoa/mtoa.
There is no argument against that.
Deathline works in the way I meantioned, it can kick render from IFD ans sent them to Mantra, it is very easy to use and lots of advertising companies use it.
I have actually used it in commercials.
For the batch licenses in Maya and Soft, I am not sure, but in maya I think you can only kick render it is a different concept as a batch license in houdini.
I am probably wrong here, but I rememebr that to kick simulations we needed to buy more licenses, but I am not sure again.
A batch license in Houdini can do everything, can computa any output even if it is a scene that is using nodes that requires a Master license.
The Mantra node can create IFDs just settign a toggle. then tools like Deathline can use sequences of IFDs file to render from Mantra at no extra cost.
http://www.sekowfx.com [www.sekowfx.com]
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At work we have 2 machines allocated for Ifd-gen.
All our fx scenes are setup with delayed load so Ifd_gen is stupid fast.
We run 24 Ifd jobs simultaneously per box (24 cores). Then mantra picks up on the farm boxes to render the Ifd files.

The only exception is if we use a volume light which requires the volume to be in the scene sigh. So we lock that 1 job to the whole machine since it can chew up ram to write the Ifd for high res pyro Sims..
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l3g3nd
At work we have 2 machines allocated for Ifd-gen.
All our fx scenes are setup with delayed load so Ifd_gen is stupid fast.
We run 24 Ifd jobs simultaneously per box (24 cores). Then mantra picks up on the farm boxes to render the Ifd files.

The only exception is if we use a volume light which requires the volume to be in the scene sigh. So we lock that 1 job to the whole machine since it can chew up ram to write the Ifd for high res pyro Sims..
This is a nice setup for a small shop.
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Pablo Giménez
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Yeah its a bit small atm. However we are able to crank out shots quite efficiently. Work smarter not harder
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lisux
Deathline …
how true about Deadline

Per year cost of 5 hbatch licenses ~= 4.000$. This is more than enough for up to 50 render nodes (unless really heavy stuff is going on). Also simulation/geometry generation/conversion can be handled with that. Adsk products come with 5 free batch licenses, so to make 50 render nodes, you need 10 distinct licenses of either Max or Maya or SI, but they won't add. Arnold or VRay adds to this +25K$ at least.

Single license of hbatch is a little bit unfriendly though.
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Hi I am 2 week now working on to setup a renderFarm.

I have Houdini FX 13. I have ifd files. .. What do I need to render my projects.??

Do I need HBatch or What?

Why is Houdini always makes thing complicated :twisted:
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